The process for making an online will is similar in every state; however, there are key differences that vary state-by-state. It is important to consider the distinct requirements each U.S. state has in order to guarantee that the will is valid. To make an online will in Alabama, be sure to follow specific Alabama statutes and to use an online will template that is customized for Alabama.
Can I Make an Online Will in Alabama?
Yes, you can make a will online in Alabama. To do so, use an online will making service. Our lawyer reviewed multiple online wills to find the best online will making service. USLegalWills delivered the highest quality online last will and testament.
Here is a checklist for the legal requirements for online will making in Alabama:
- The maker of the will, known as the Testator, must be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind.
- After making an online will in Alabama, you must print it out and sign it. The state of Alabama does not allow digital-only wills.
- The will must be signed by at least two witnesses; in the state of Alabama, the witnesses are not required to be “disinterested” parties, so the witnesses can also be beneficiaries of the will. However, it is generally advised that at least one of the witnesses is a “disinterested” party, or is not a beneficiary of the will, to avoid potential conflict during the execution of the will.
- The witnesses must see the Testator sign the will, and the person writing the will must see the witnesses sign the will.
Does Alabama Require a Notarized Will?
If the above requirements are met, then the will is legally valid in Alabama. However, if the will is not notarized, then when presented to the probate court, one of the witnesses will have to testify to its authenticity in order for the will to be enforced by the court.
If the will is notarized, then this step can be skipped and allow the will to be executed quicker. In most states, as well as in Alabama, the will itself is not what gets notarized; instead, there is a separate document, called a “self-proving affidavit,” which is notarized and attached to the will.
When writing an online will in Alabama, you can also use an online template like this one for a “self-proving affidavit” to print out along with your will. However, you cannot simply sign the affidavit like you can the will. You must take the affidavit to a notary public for you and your witnesses to sign. Once you and your witnesses sign the affidavit in front of a notary public, you attach it to your will and now the process of executing your will is a lot simpler.
Can I Name an Executor in Alabama?
In Alabama, an executor can be named in an online will. The executor is the person designated to settle the estate and ensure that the will is followed after the Testator’s death. It is a good idea to choose someone known and trusted as the executor of your will, and the executor can also be a beneficiary in the will. If an executor is not named in the will in Alabama, the probate court will appoint an executor to handle the estate.
Here are the requirements for an executor in Alabama:
- The person must be at least 19 years of age.
- The person must not have been convicted of “infamous crime” (such as bribery, embezzlement, or perjury).
- The person must not have been judged incapacitated by a court.
To name an executor who lives out-of-state, Alabama does not impose special requirements. But for practical reasons, it may be a good idea to choose an executor who lives near you. An executor may have to handle various day-to-day matters until your estate is settled, and choosing someone nearby can facilitate that.
Do I Need an Attorney to Make a Will in Alabama?
No, an attorney is not required to make a will in Alabama. However, for some people—like those who have a large or complex estate—it is wise to consult an estate planning attorney. When the estate is simple and the will is straightforward, online will making is a good option. Be sure to follow the guidelines for Alabama and to use an online will making service that provides a state-specific template.
What Types of Wills are Valid in Alabama?
Any type of will which meets the federal and state-specific requirements is valid in Alabama, whether the will is made online or not. The requirements for a will to be valid in Alabama are that it must be written by someone at least 18 years of age, who is of sound mind, and they must sign the will in front of two witnesses, who must also sign it in front of them.
Can I Make a Holographic Will in Alabama?
A holographic will is a handwritten last will and testament signed only by the person who wrote the will with no other witnesses.
In Alabama, holographic wills are not considered legally binding. For a will to be valid in Alabama, it requires the Testator to sign in front of two witnesses as well as the witnesses to sign in front of the Testator. Under a foreign wills provision, Alabama may recognize a holographic will if it is made in jurisdictions where holographic wills are recognized. This can be a tricky legal area that can get complicated very quickly. It is best to have a typed will that is also signed by witnesses.
Can I Make a Nuncupative or Video Will in Alabama?
A nuncupative will is an oral will. Some individuals wish to leave oral wills on video. However, Alabama does not recognize a nuncupative or video will—since for a will to be considered valid in Alabama, it must be signed by the Testator in front of two witnesses who also sign the will in front of the Testator.
In any state, a nuncupative will is usually allowed in emergency or last resort situations; if the person is facing imminent death and has no will, a nuncupative will is better than no will at all. But Alabama will not recognize a nuncupative will, so for your will to be considered valid, it must be on physical paper. You can handwrite a will in Alabama as long as you sign it in front of at least two witnesses with their signatures on it as well. If you don’t have a valid will or if you make a nuncupative will in Alabama, then your property’s succession will follow according to the laws as if you died without a will.
How Is a Living Will Different from an Online Will in Alabama?
A living will, also known as an advance directive, is a legal document that gives instructions to your family and to doctors for medical decisions and other end-of-life care should you become incapacitated. Making an online will as your last will and testament and a living will are not the same; they are two separate documents. The key difference is when they are consulted—your last will and testament is not filed until after death whereas a living will is consulted if you become incapable of making decisions for yourself. The last will and testament, whether made online or not, is not the right place to leave medical directives or end-of-life care instructions. Instead, leave these instructions in a living will which should be given to the care of the named executor or another trusted individual.
In Alabama, the requirements for making a living will are:
- You must be at least 19 years of age.
- You must be capable of understanding medical procedures as a layperson and understand the consequences of withholding treatment.
- You must have the living will in writing, and it must be dated and signed in the presence of at least two witnesses (who are also at least 19 years of age; who are not related to you by blood, marriage, or adoption; and who are not the healthcare proxy listed in the living will. They also cannot be entitled to any portion of your estate).
- You must follow the same format specified by Alabama’s state statutes.
You can make both a last will and testament and a living will online. You can find more information on the requirements for making a living will online, as well as find the correct way to format it, here.
Why Do I Need to Make a Will Online in Alabama?
If someone dies without a will, then the intestacy laws of Alabama will determine what happens to their estate. It can become a lengthy, complicated legal process. The court will appoint guardianship for any minor children as well as an executor to handle debts and the distribution of property. The estate will be divided between surviving family members according to the intestacy distribution laws of the particular state, which can be complicated. You can find the intestacy distribution laws for Alabama here. Property held by someone who died without a last will and testament will often be held up in the probate court process for months at a time, so making a will online can help simplify the process for your family.
What Can I Include in an Online Will in Alabama?
Besides choosing an executor for your estate, you can include the following when making an online will in Alabama:
- You can choose guardianship for any minor children.
- You can designate property or gifts to specific people or organizations.
- You can select a trusted person to oversee property left to any minor children.
- You can choose someone to care for any remaining pets.
- You can distribute family heirlooms and sentimental items.
- You can make requests for what to do with any personal or sentimental items.
What Should not Be Included in a Will in Alabama?
Your end-of-life care or funeral instructions should not be included in your last will and testament. Usually, when a person dies, the funeral arrangements are made immediately. The will is read after the funeral, and that is when the process for settling the estate begins. That means that if funeral instructions or other end-of-life care stipulations are in the will, family members might not know about them before the funeral arrangements are made.
For end-of-life care, you would want to create a living will. For funeral instructions, you can speak with a family member to make your wishes known or you can make a separate document that describes what you wish for your funeral, which you can give to the person you chose to be the executor of your estate.
Can I Change or Revoke an Online Will Made in Alabama?
Whether you make your will online or not, a will is a legally binding document. However, you can change or revoke your will at any time.
In Alabama, here are ways to change or revoke a will:
- You can revoke it by destroying it physically (burn, tear, shred, obliterate) with the intent and purpose of revoking it.
- You can order someone else to destroy it physically in front of you.
- You can make a new will which says that it revokes the old one, or has contradictory terms to the old one.
You should consider updating your will after any major life changes, like marriage, divorce, birth or adoption of a child, acquisition of assets that can change the distribution of property, or if you relocate to another state or country. If you want to make minor changes, you can add an amendment, called a codicil, to your current will, but you must finalize the amendment in the same way you had to for the original will. In Alabama, that means you have to print the changes, sign the new document in front of two witnesses, and have them sign it in front of you. You may also want to consider making another “self-proving affidavit” to fully validate the changes.
How Do I Finalize an Online Will in Alabama?
To finalize an online will in Alabama, take these steps:
- Print the online will out,
- Sign the will in front of two witnesses, and
- Have the two witnesses sign the will in front of you.
In Alabama, to make the will self-proving, you will need a separate, notarized affidavit with your signature and the signatures of two witnesses.
Special Considerations in Alabama:
- Under Alabama law, surviving spouses (defined by marriage) have allowance exemptions applicable to property and shares of the estate. You should consult an attorney to fully understand these exemptions and how they might apply to your estate.
- Alabama has a “pretermitted child” statute,” or “omitted child” law, which means disinheriting a child is not as straightforward as omitting them in your will.
- Conditional gifts, or declaring that a beneficiary can only receive their inheritance if such action/requirement is taken/obeyed, may not be upheld. If you wish to place conditions in your will, it is advisable to consult an attorney.
USLegalWills is our recommendation for an online last will and testament. Their pricing is fair and the process of making an online will is easy. You can also create a Living Will. USLegalWills offers a free service to document funeral wishes and save final messages for loved ones.